What is Nirvana in Buddhism?The ultimate goal of Buddhism is to reach the state of Nirvana. Nirvana is a conceptual state in which one has realized his or her oneness with the universe and escapes all suffering in the world. Such a person will no longer experience the cycle of reincarnation. While the person still "exists" in a complex spiritual sense, the personal self ceases to exist.
Nirvana literally means "blowing out" or "quenching," as in extinguishing a candle. To achieve this, a Buddhist must eliminate all desire—positive, negative, physical, mental, and emotional.
More specifically, passion, aversion (hatred), and ignorance (delusion) are the three "fires" that need to be put out. The Bible also speaks against these attitudes, such as in Romans 6:12. In Colossians 3:5, Christians are warned to put to death all earthly desires. Many Proverbs speak against foolishness and hatred (for example, Proverbs 9:1–18; 10:12; 18:2; 19:3).
But Buddhism and Christianity are not parallel. Buddhism does not identify wrong desire as sin or violation against a divine moral code. Instead, it aims for the elimination of all desire (which, coincidentally, is self-defeating as one must have the desire to eliminate desire). Having a goal of ridding oneself of all desire is not biblical. God even tells us He will grant the desires of our hearts when we delight in Him (Psalm 37:4). And, in opposition to Nirvana, heaven is a place of pleasure, contentment, and where desires are fulfilled (Psalm 16). The Bible teaches that heaven's citizens will have a new body, but not lose identity, unlike Nirvana in which one loses their personal identity.
Heaven is not obtainable on our own; there is no way to get ourselves into a position to get there (Romans 3:20). Even if we say that only sinful desire must be eliminated, it is not something we can accomplish on our own (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 7:21—8:2). Rather, salvation comes only through putting our faith in Jesus Christ, who, by His grace, has provided a means of forgiveness and new life (John 3:16–18; 14:6; Ephesians 2:8–10). Nirvana, Buddhism teaches, is attainable by one's own efforts. It is not a place, but a state of being, unlike heaven which is an actual place where Christians will live with God for eternity (Psalm 16:11).
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